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308 Lucas radiator fans, and why they need to go away!

Discussion in '308/328' started by JohnInItaly, Nov 16, 2019.

  1. JohnInItaly

    JohnInItaly Karting

    Feb 5, 2019
    98
    Santa Cruz, California
    Full Name:
    John McCoy
    I have owned my 1974 308 GT4 for almost 30 years, and always feared that over-heating would damage the engine. With the help of previous threads here, I began to educate myself about cooling issues. My contribution at this time concerns the Lucas radiator cooling fan motors. They both worked when I bought the car, but then one stopped working. I took it apart to discover that extreme heat inside had melted the brush holder plate. I very luckily found a new one on eBay. The fans actually come apart very easily, and I urge anyone interested to have a look inside. The armature shaft needs grease on both ends that is likely missing and should be renewed frequently. Play on the shaft is crucial, and is controlled by the set screw opposite from the fan blade. They actually need more play than you might think, because they tighten up when the motor is hot from running, and they actually seize and stop working, until they cool down enough to restart, and you won't even realize it, unless you stop and check while the car is very hot, and it will be hotter than it should be, because one or both of your cooling fans are not working. The fan motors become so hot that you will burn your finger, just touching the outer casing, but then cool down again later and seem normal, except that the grease goes away and the shellac on the coil windings actually crystallizes with heat and accumulates like sand, inside the motor. After several episodes with my original Lucas fan motors, I decided that there must be something better! After months of work, here is what my friend and I developed for billet adapters to easily mount SPAL fans without modifications to your car, and they are now available on eBay, with 24 large format photos on that site.
    Search: 1974-on Ferrari 308 GT4 & similar, pair adapters for SPAL fans in OEM mounts-308

    This project began after my frustration with the original Lucas radiator cooling fans in my own 1974 Ferrari 308 GT4. There have been many discussions on the popular Ferrari Chat website about possible solutions, but there was no easy way to mount the modern SPAL cooling fans from Italy, without some funky home-made mounts, until now. I spent a lot of time talking with the SPA engineers to determine that the best cooling fans are the 3010.0320 model VA11-AP7/C-57S, 10" diameter PUSHER (not puller from inside of the radiator), 12 volt models. Order directly from SPAL USA and do order the optional wiring harness plugs! These are the largest SPAL fans that fit in the original space without problems and have the highest CFM rating. Despite the huge appearance, the outside diameter of the SPAL units are actually a little smaller than the diameter of the original Lucas fan blades. A famous 308 GT4 specialist in Florida does order complete SPAL fans with original style fan blades that have a lower CFM rating, cost more, and do not look original, but they must be ordered directly from SPAL Italy in quantities of 20 or more per order, and I think that my solution is better. With my drawings, maestro Franco Cappellini in Como, Italy created prototypes that were tested and then further refined in my own car. I could not be happier with the results. I believe that they will work in 308 GTB/GTS, Pantera, and other 1970's cars using the Lucas round fan motors, as long as you have a minimum of 2.5" clearance between the edge of your original fan mounts and the front edge of your air conditioner condenser or radiator.
    Please send a message about how these work in other models.
    The plastic SPAL fan shrouds rest directly against the surface of the condenser or radiator. Installed photos here are of the original crude prototypes that remain in my own car. The high grade alloy billet finished product that you are buying is shown in the first photos. Made to look like the original Lucas motors, the outer screws in the black mounts are actually functional, holding the round adapter to the flat base plate, but the center screw mimicing the Lucas original armature shaft adjuster is just for appearance.

    Mounting hints for 308 GT4, but may be helpful on other cars:
    - Access is tight, but I was able to complete the entire conversion through the front, after removing the grille, without disturbing the radiator or AC condenser.
    - Tie the air horns up and out of the way.
    - Remove old fans intact and pull the original mounts wide apart, if needed, so that they come out easily.
    - Connect SPAL wiring plug to original wiring first.
    - Slightly squeeze tighter, in the middle, the original round mounts, as the new fans are .5mm smaller diameter than the original inch size Lucas fans.
    - Install only new mount adapters, with flat spot on the mount pointing up, to clear cross member without modification. Do not fully tighten in mounts yet.
    Pointy-tip ViseGrip pliers help with keeping the mounting band tight to insert the original screw and nut.
    - With flat sides of SPAL fans in vertical position, remove side and bottom original metal cover plate screws. Leave upper shorter original screw in place.
    - Slide SPAL fans between new mount adapters and AC condenser, and then install new longer screws included with kit.
    If you drop one or more into the lower body valence and cannot fish them out with a magnet, they are standard #8 X 1" flat head available in the tiny parts drawers at ACE hardware stores.
    - Position fans on the new adapter mounts nicely against AC condenser and tighten the bottom screw in the orginal mount, with flat sides of the SPAL fans perpendicular to ground. Double check clearance on all sides, but I had no problem at all.
    - Reinstall grille and you are done.
    - Read the Ferrari Chat and Birdman 308 discussions to make sure that you have Stant radiator cap 10331, thermostat 056121113A with tiny breather hole drilled (and round thermostat or-ring in box DOES work in place of square section rubber gasket, if needed), thermostat housing AND radiator bleed valves (my 308 GT4 is build #5, and did not originally come with any breather in the thermostat housing, and had to be added). Change coolant and install Clark & Clark drain valves to avoid huge mess during subsequent coolant changes. I spent almost 30 years worrying about coolant temperatures, and now all of that is behind me.

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  3. waymar

    waymar Formula 3

    Sep 2, 2008
    1,211
    Northeast, PA - USA
    Full Name:
    Wayne
    FWIW on my ‘82 308GTSi pulled radiator and fans. Rebuilt fans with news brushes and re-cord radiator from16FPI to 14FPI, replacement of the stock foam around 4 sides of the radiator completed the job. This allowed more air flow through the radiator and that made all the difference on my car. Runs just above t-stat with the AC on in traffic.

    FWIW all the focus has been on the fans and not the air flow through the OEM radiator. Just saying.......
     
  4. JohnInItaly

    JohnInItaly Karting

    Feb 5, 2019
    98
    Santa Cruz, California
    Full Name:
    John McCoy
    The 308 GT4 has a huge vent directly above the radiator, and so the foam and airflow of the GTS/GTB is another matter, altough the GT4 and GTS fans are the same, and I think that the radiator must be a similar size. No matter what radiator you have, you still need reliable fans. If the fans no longer seize and produce twice the airflow, then everyone benefits. The fans are also less than half the cost of any radiator and a lot less work to install. If your existing radiator functions, then replacing the inexpensive fans may be enough to solve your cooling problems, assuming that the rest of your cooling system is functional. The radiator is the single most expensive part of the cooling system, yet depends upon all of the little pieces, including radiator cap, thermostat, hoses and tubing, sensor with wiring and switches, water pump, coolant, and the least reliable part being those Lucas fans. The most expensive radiator available still needs the little pieces to keep your car running.
     
  5. BrockBenson

    BrockBenson Karting

    Oct 18, 2018
    170
    Australia
    Anything automotive electrical with the words LUCAS in it needs to eradicated :)
     
    308 milano likes this.
  6. Dr Tommy Cosgrove

    Dr Tommy Cosgrove Three Time F1 World Champ
    Rossa Subscribed Owner

    May 4, 2001
    33,249
    Birmingham, AL
    Full Name:
    Tommy
    So these mounts for the fans will fit down in my 84 308 like your GT/4?

    That simple?

    I like them.
     
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  8. Dr Tommy Cosgrove

    Dr Tommy Cosgrove Three Time F1 World Champ
    Rossa Subscribed Owner

    May 4, 2001
    33,249
    Birmingham, AL
    Full Name:
    Tommy
  9. JohnInItaly

    JohnInItaly Karting

    Feb 5, 2019
    98
    Santa Cruz, California
    Full Name:
    John McCoy
    Hello. You already have the same SPAL fans. I only know about my own early 308 GT4, and am anxious to hear about how these work in other cars. All Lucas radiator fan motors appear to be the same 3" diameter, with some functional updates inside the later units, but externally the same size. The minimum clearance between the AC condenser (or radiator if no AC in place) and the closest edge of the round fan motor clamp bracket, shown in photos attached here, is 2.45" to fit with ZERO modifications. The maximum distance if you want the SPAL shrouds resting against the AC condenser or radiator, is about 3.50", but the mount body 75mm diameter high quality Italian aluminum tubing is sold in long lengths, and these adapters could be made in longer lengths in the future for other models, if needed, production times and shipping costs from Italy not included. If a modification is required, the round clamping motor bracket itself is bolted to the pad on the cross brace, and those brackets could be moved just by drilling new holes, which would likely not be seen when the fans are in place. The original goal was ZERO modifications, which we achieved for my 308 GT4 after test fitting and a few design changes.

    I paid $85.80 per fan direct from SPAL USA, who normally stocks these. Retail stores appear to charge much more. Shipping fee within the USA was reasonable. DO ORDER the matching wiring harness plugs, which are not included (but are very handy). The mounts cost 50% more than the fans because of efficiencies in a huge fan factory, compared to my Italian friend who buys material in small quantities, produces them in small quantities both in his own machine shop and a CNC shop for the base piece, and then has them hard anodized, and ships them to California, a few at a time.

    Do print the eBay listing with 24 large photos while it is available, or I can send file photos at any later time that I am near my desktop computer, and not away, goofing off in Italy or elsewhere. The one page of instructions and SPAL spec sheet, plus 6 longer screws, arrive with the mounts.

    These mounts should work with other models of SPAL fans that have the same motor cover plate screw spacing, which is all clearly shown on the SPAL USA website downloads available for most every SPAL fan application.
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  10. Dr Tommy Cosgrove

    Dr Tommy Cosgrove Three Time F1 World Champ
    Rossa Subscribed Owner

    May 4, 2001
    33,249
    Birmingham, AL
    Full Name:
    Tommy
    Is there a link you can provide for the matching wiring harness plugs? I couldn't find them and since I already have the fans...
     
  11. thorn

    thorn F1 Rookie
    Silver Subscribed

    Aug 7, 2012
    3,203
    Tallahassee, FL
    Neat little fabrication... I made my own brackets when I installed those fans, but nice to see a complete-er option out there! :)
     
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  13. JohnInItaly

    JohnInItaly Karting

    Feb 5, 2019
    98
    Santa Cruz, California
    Full Name:
    John McCoy
    No link. You would order them by phone from the SPAL USA salesman. At this point, I suggest that you just use generic individual slip-on electrical fittings from the local auto parts store, at this point, to attach to the SPAL white plastic connector, which is what I did. The ground wires just bolt to the cross frame with a small screw, and you can either splice into the original bullet connector wire on the original wiring (if it is still original) or make a little jumper harness. I am keeping the original pieces in a box for when the Smithsonian calls to tell me that I have the last remaining 308 GT4 on earth, but am also trying to not make myself more crazy about the originality thing.
     
  14. JohnInItaly

    JohnInItaly Karting

    Feb 5, 2019
    98
    Santa Cruz, California
    Full Name:
    John McCoy
    I saw some photos of 2 cars on older postings (maybe of your car), which was the motivation to start the project. My photos posted are of the crude, painted prototypes, but customers receive more nicely machined parts that are hard anodized. Last photo is of the SPAL assemblies from the Florida GT4 specialist.
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  15. Dr Tommy Cosgrove

    Dr Tommy Cosgrove Three Time F1 World Champ
    Rossa Subscribed Owner

    May 4, 2001
    33,249
    Birmingham, AL
    Full Name:
    Tommy
    There is a plastic tie in there
     
  16. JohnInItaly

    JohnInItaly Karting

    Feb 5, 2019
    98
    Santa Cruz, California
    Full Name:
    John McCoy
    These are old Ferrari Chat photos of other members who installed SPAL fans in their cars, some time ago, inspiring me to create a cleaner installation. These photos have no other relation to the new billet alloy mount kits from Italy.
     
    Dr Tommy Cosgrove likes this.
  17. Ferrarium

    Ferrarium F1 Rookie
    Rossa Subscribed

    Jul 28, 2018
    4,228
    Central NJ
    Full Name:
    Eric
    My 348 has zero cooling issues but the system has other issues that are easily solved. Just a thought for 3x8 cars.... Add a pwm controller it is easy revesable too.

    https://www.ferrarichat.com/forum/threads/implementing-cooling-fan-pwm-controller.608170

    If you scroll down to the end you can see and hear the difference it powers up smooth and ramps up preventing heat in the fuse panel. I made a bypass shroud too with the pwm and new spals it's pretty modern now and I dont have to worry about 50 amp instsant draw between the 2 fans. The poor fuse panel.

    https://www.ferrarichat.com/forum/threads/radiator-shroud-project.611147


    Sent using FerrariChat.com mobile app
     
  18. JohnInItaly

    JohnInItaly Karting

    Feb 5, 2019
    98
    Santa Cruz, California
    Full Name:
    John McCoy
    My business sells relays for motorcycles and some European cars, and I buy them from OEM supplier Guilera in Spain. Their engineers suggested a plug in replacement for the fan relays that have built in resistors that should prevent extreme loads from blowing your fuses or burning wires. They will be here in May 2020 and I will post photos.
     
    Dr Tommy Cosgrove likes this.
  19. Mark C Harvey

    Mark C Harvey Karting

    Jul 17, 2018
    193
    West Hartford, Connecticut
    Full Name:
    Mark C Harvey
    Just installed the Spal fans and adapter mounts developed by @JohnInItaly. My 308 GT4 was running hot in summer traffic (up to around 220 - 230F). Just returned from a test drive after installing the new fans and she never exceeded 185F while sitting in traffic!! Installation took about 2-3 hours as access is tight - it takes a little trial and error to fit the new fans into position. Needless to say a great improvement, and I highly recommend this upgrade.
     
    Dr Tommy Cosgrove likes this.
  20. Dr Tommy Cosgrove

    Dr Tommy Cosgrove Three Time F1 World Champ
    Rossa Subscribed Owner

    May 4, 2001
    33,249
    Birmingham, AL
    Full Name:
    Tommy
    I have those cool mounts and fans but they are still sitting on my shelf.

    I need to get them on my car
     
    Mark C Harvey likes this.
  21. JohnInItaly

    JohnInItaly Karting

    Feb 5, 2019
    98
    Santa Cruz, California
    Full Name:
    John McCoy
    Hi Mark, and I am happy that they helped you, too. Don't forget the radiator cap, thermostat, and water bleed valves, because they all do their part, and at minimal expense and installation time: Read the Ferrari Chat and Birdman 308 discussions to make sure that you have Stant radiator cap 10331, thermostat 056121113A with tiny breather hole drilled (and round thermostat or-ring in box DOES work in place of square section rubber gasket, if needed) and you can make your own paper thermostat gasket, thermostat housing AND radiator bleed valves (my 308 GT4 is build #5, and did not originally come with any breather in the thermostat housing, and had to be added). Change coolant and install Clark & Clark drain valves to avoid huge mess during subsequent coolant changes.
     
    Mark C Harvey likes this.
  22. JohnInItaly

    JohnInItaly Karting

    Feb 5, 2019
    98
    Santa Cruz, California
    Full Name:
    John McCoy
    Hello Dr Tommy. I just checked with my master fabricator for All Things Italian in Italy, Franco Cappellini, and he cofirmed that there is no reduction in cooling temperature when the fan monuts are sitting on the shelf.
     
  23. JohnInItaly

    JohnInItaly Karting

    Feb 5, 2019
    98
    Santa Cruz, California
    Full Name:
    John McCoy
    The original install photos were of the crude prototypes installed on my own car, but when I was amazed at the improvement, Franco Cappellini in Como Italy made a batch to sell, in the more refined version shown in the first photos. Other photos are of my own car with those prototypes. As the first batch is almost gone, Cappellini Moto is making another batch. NOTE TO CUSTOMERS LIKE Dr Tommy: The small packages of 6 longer screws that hold the SPAL fans to the mounts with a copy of the install instructions, that were supposed to come with these kits, fell to the bottom of the inventory box and many were not shipped when people bought the fan adapters. If you need those screws, please send a message, either here, or better yet on the original eBay selling site, and they will be sent to you right away. Sorry for that problem! Install instructions with 24 photos are easiest to read on the eBay site with a large monitor.
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  24. JohnInItaly

    JohnInItaly Karting

    Feb 5, 2019
    98
    Santa Cruz, California
    Full Name:
    John McCoy
    Just today, I had a conference call with a SPAL distributor in Italy and Cappellini Moto about buying the fans in Italy, and we hope to make that happen for our next ocean container parts shipment that will arrive in late March 2022. Even the SPAL distributor cannot supply the matching wire harness plug, but Franco Cappellini is going to find them in Italy for us so that we can offer everything in a kit so that you don't have to modify wiring plugs or go hunting for more pieces. Efficient production using the lengths of billet alloy sold to machine shops means that he will make 16 pairs per batch = 32 fans, but the Italian master distributor does not have 32 fans in stock, and so we must prepay and wait for them. Lead times for products are generally 3-9 months, but I have had to roll over some orders to the following year due to production problems during covid. Price for the complete kit should be $499 and all that you will need is basic hand tools and the ability to lay on your back in front of your car for a couple of hours (less if you are really a fast worker!). If you want to solve your cooling problems before March 2022, then buy the fan adapters in our eBay store after you find the SPAL fans somewhere in stock, like Summit Racing or elsewhere. You can learn more on the eBay listing, as it has 24 photos about the conversion, while we are only allowed to post 10 photos here on FERRARICHAT. Search: 1974-on Ferrari 308 GT4 & similar, pair adapters for SPAL fans in OEM mounts-308
     
    Mark C Harvey likes this.
  25. DeRRis

    DeRRis Rookie

    Nov 6, 2012
    47
    Netherlands
    Full Name:
    Dennis B
  26. JohnInItaly

    JohnInItaly Karting

    Feb 5, 2019
    98
    Santa Cruz, California
    Full Name:
    John McCoy
    Perfect! If you have a 308, enter Ferrari into the eBay search to see the other few little pieces that I have found in Europe that help 308 owners at great prices.
     

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